March 22nd, 2011

A question for Obama: why Libya, why now?

It used to be fairly easy to determine why the US decided to intervene in conflicts in the third world. Whether a person agreed with such actions or supported a more isolationist policy, the answer to the question “why?” was more simple during the Cold War: much of the time, we backed the side the Soviet Union was against.

Those hot wars around the globe very often were used as proxies for the larger war known as Cold. Because it would have been way too lethal and destructive for the US and USSR to duke it out directly, and each country had allied itself with different factions around the globe, this was the way such conflicts tended to play out.

In the the case of Libya today, if one looks at Qaddafi’s history, he’s a sort of idiosyncratic socialist as well as an all-around bad guy who has offended nearly everyone with whom he’s dealt over the many decades he’s been in power. There is indeed some history of cooperation between Qaddafi and the Soviets, especially during the 1980s when there were many arms sales by Russia and a host of “advisers.”

That’s certainly not what’s in Obama’s mind these days, however. What is? Obama himself says he’s intervening in Libya because (a) the international community decided it was a good idea, and (b) it is for humanitarian reasons. I would even believe him, since these are the two traditional reasons for the left to support a military intervention, except that of course both were also highly true in Iraq (in fact, see this), and we know that not only did Obama oppose that war but he even opposed the surge after it was successful. But hey, consistency is not his bag.

John Hawkins has seven questions for liberals about Obama and Libya, but they really pretty much boil down to one: why aren’t you mounting the same criticisms against Obama that you used to hurl at Bush for Iraq?

It’s rhetorical, of course. Hawkins knows why, and is calling them to task for hypocrisy. On the other hand, I have been surprised at the fact that, although the vitriol is nothing like that generated for Bush, quite a few liberals are indeed angry at Obama for Libya and some have even called for his impeachment over this.

Another reason Obama is intervening now in Libya might be that he got tired of all the previous criticism for doing nothing in Iran as well as for his early hands-off policy in Libya. In Egypt he spoke up against Mubarak, and probably feels a bit heady at the fact that he got what he wanted, easy as pie. Qaddafi is another breed of cat entirely, one who may end up having nine lives.

23 Responses to “A question for Obama: why Libya, why now?”

  1. Lurch Says:

    under Obama, the U.S. is merely the UN’s pit bull. trained to attack but only on command.

  2. blert Says:

    The Duck of Death told the Europeans that they’d so hurt his feelings that he’d have to stop selling them his oil — at any price.

    Ireland, Spain and Italy are addicted to his sweet crude — and can’t easily replace it. ( It takes years to revamp a refinery. )

    So they’d have to go into the oil market and buy it back from whomever Daffy sold it to — probably Beijing. The trading premia would sink all three countries — and take the banks down with them.

    Not just their own banks, but Paris, London, and Berlin…

    That spun everyone on a dime, even the Wan.

    The spice must flow…

    In other news: the Revolution — overnight — has established a new national oil exporting company recognized as legit by the Europeans. Exports from Tobruk have almost certainly begun.


    Loose talking Daffy did himself in. If he’d stayed off the microphone and just did the dirty the West would never have intervened.

    Instead, the fool spelled out tyrannical threats and aimed them at every point to the horizon.


    I’d expect Libya to split on tribal lines with Cyrenaica — now run by raging anti-West Salafists — perhaps even being folded into Egypt.

  3. Mr. Frank Says:

    The answer is Samantha Power, Susan Rice, and Hillary Clinton.

  4. gcotharn Says:

    Can you let the man eat his Brazilian waffle?!

  5. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    The surface answer is that he had to appear to be doing something. Dig a bit deeper however and a rationale that gives pause emerges; the new UN/leftist rationale, the “Responsibility to Protect”.

    Obama, by voting for UN intervention has agreed to a profoundly important new precedent. National sovereignty is being subsumed; Libya has not attacked another nation. Libya is not in a civil war with no central gov’t. in charge. Qaddafi’s brutality is not the issue, though it is being used as the excuse. Nothing in the UN charter allows for this intervention.

    The precedent set is that the UN can now determine when a formerly recognized legitimate government can be overthrown and prevented, through outside force, from suppressing armed rebellion…

    The UN now gets to decide which governments are legitimate and which are not and gets to back it up with member nations military assets. The UN can now arbitrarily vote to militarily attack a member nation…

    As there are no constitutional limits or even guidelines as to when and how such a determination is to be made, the world, with the Obama administration legitimizing it, has decided that the rule of men, rather than law, shall rule.

    Since the left abhors US sovereignty, look for this to be used in future arguments that the UN should take precedence over US autonomy.

    Obama knowingly or not is complicit in the establishment of the UN authority over US sovereignty.

  6. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Oops! Darn tags. Supposed to end after “responsibility to protect” sure wish we had preview. When is wordpress going to get with it?

  7. Bob From Virginia Says:

    Barry Rubin at The Rubin Report also has an interesting take. Basically, this operation is mess.

  8. physicsguy Says:

    I have to say that I have some grudging respect for Kucinich et al. At least he is being true to his own prinicples. I can’t say the same for the more soft left, like the academics I work with. The silence from them has been overwhelming on this “little war”. Their hypocrisy is what drives my blood pressure sky high.

    As far as BHO goes, I think Geoffrey’s quote says it all: Obama is more concerned with subjugating the US’s sovereignty than in being “right” about this war.

  9. Curtis Says:

    The whole history of the world is summed up in the fact that, when nations are strong, they are not always just, and when they wish to be just, they are no longer strong.–Winston Churchill

    Since Obama doesn’t want a strong United States but since he does agree with RTP, he is ideologically situated to create havoc.

  10. Parker Says:

    “There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.”

    — Donald Rumsfeld

    Its seems apparent to me that no one in the Obama administration, except perhaps Gates, has thought about unintended consequences. I think Obama is so disinterested in the actual job of being president that he is easily swayed into making rather flippant decisions. The UN says its okay, the Arab League says its okay, Powers, Rice, and HRC say its okay, Sarkosy says its okay; viola it must be okay.

    So he’s decided to allow the US military, acting as a pawn of the UN, to fire missiles and make bombing runs for a few days, and then he’s going turn the whole affair over to _______ and play a few rounds of golf.

    However, if no one in the west is willing to put boots on the ground and hunt down Qaddafi and his kin, which seems to be the case, the situation in Libya is going to get very nasty. This is a fight to the death. Right now we’re just spending billions and putting our pilots at risk to make rubble that the Libyans will smear with blood and gore.

  11. Deeka Says:


    What? Obama? Oh, never mind.

  12. Parker Says:


    Progressives: Hypocrisy, hubris, and hyperbole be thy name.

  13. rickl Says:

    I saw an interesting comment at the Market Ticker. It suggested that this might be tied somehow to the upcoming vote to raise the debt ceiling. Increased military spending could give the congressional Republicans a fig leaf to vote for an increase.

    I think Geoffrey Britain’s like is probably more likely. This establishes a precedent that the UN can decide whether a nation’s government is legitimate or not.

    Suppose the Tea Party runs the table in the 2012 elections, and the Left responds with a violent uprising…

  14. rickl Says:

    Geoffrey Britain’s comment, I meant.

  15. rickl Says:

    No, come to think of it, I meant to say Geoffrey Britain’s link.

    That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

  16. Parker Says:

    Rickl says,

    “Suppose the Tea Party runs the table in the 2012 elections, and the Left responds with a violent uprising…”

    If the tea party can run the table in 2012 I will believe there is hope for turning around the credit-debt-deficit crisis. As far as the left turning violent; if that should happen they will make a big mistake. A left versus right civil war will not favor the left. I certainly don’t want civil war 2.0. What a horrendous thing that would be! Nonetheless, if that is the destiny of our society I would appreciate it occurring while I can still clearly distinguish the front sight centered on the target.

  17. Michael Says:

    I think the President wanted to show the world what a swell spear carrier we can be.

  18. rickl Says:

    What I was implying was that in such a situation, given this precedent, the UN could conceivably get involved and determine whether our elected government was legitimate or not.

  19. Parker Says:

    Rickl says,

    “What I was implying was that in such a situation, given this precedent, the UN could conceivably get involved and determine whether our elected government was legitimate or not.”

    Obama, as much as I loath his ideology, is the president. If he should, which I think he will not beyond this particular situation, submerge our rule of law to UN dictate, I would then seriously support his impeachment, conviction, and removal from office. I don’t see that scenario playing out. Ballot box 2012 is the place to hold the line and return Obama to the real world where he can make millions writing yet another memoir and giving speeches via the tele-prompter to the fawning left.

  20. nolanimrod Says:

    This is the Obama version of Kerry’s salute or Dukakis’ tank photo.

  21. Casca Says:

    On target Nola. When your military experience consists of having watched Top Gun, you’re likely to make some very unwise decisions. As that old Austrian Clausewitz put it, “Everything in war is simple, but the simplest thing is difficult.”

    One would think that at some point even the dullest of dullards might question his own abilities. Real leaders know that the path to accomplishing goals is a very rocky road, and if you have no goals, then you are completely lost.

  22. Amy Says:

    Obama’s stated objective is “protecting innocent civilians in Libya and holding the Qaddafi regime accountable” for injustices. I don’t think that’s his job. And if it is his job, then pretty much anything is his job.

  23. The News Factor, an online Conservative News Magazine » JOHN HAWKINS has 7 Questions For Liberals About Obama’s Libyan War Says:

    […] A question for Obama: why Libya, why now? ( […]

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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